Pressure ulcers are also called bedsores and pressure sores. They can form when muscles and soft tissue press against a surface such as a chair or bed. This pressure cuts off your blood supply to that area. Lack of blood supply can cause the skin tissue in this area to die. When this happens, a pressure ulcer may form.
You have a risk of developing a pressure ulcer if you:
You will need to take steps to prevent these problems.
You, or your caregiver, need to check your body every day from head to toe. Pay special attention to the areas where pressure ulcers often form. These are:
Call your doctor or nurse if you see early signs of pressure ulcers. These are:
Treat your skin gently to help prevent pressure ulcers.
Drink plenty of water every day.
Make sure your clothes are not increasing your risk of developing pressure ulcers.
After urinating or having a bowel movement:
Make sure your wheelchair is the right size for you.
Sit on a foam or gel seat cushion that fits your wheelchair. Do NOT sit on donut-shaped cushions.
You or your caregiver should shift your weight in your wheelchair every 15 - 20 minutes. This will increase blood flow and take pressure off certain areas:
If you transfer yourself (move to or from your wheelchair), lift your body up with your arms. Do NOT drag yourself. If you're having trouble transferring into your wheelchair, see a physical therapist to learn proper technique.
If your caregiver transfers you, make sure they know the proper way to move you.
Use a foam mattress or one that is filled with gel or air. Place pads under your bottom to absorb wetness to help keep your skin dry.
Use a soft pillow or a piece of soft foam between parts of your body that press against each other or against your mattress. Some common pressure areas are:
Some other tips are:
Call your doctor right away if
Decubitus ulcer prevention; Bedsore prevention; Pressure sores prevention
US Department of Health and Human Services. Health care protocol: Skin safety protocol: Risk assessment and prevention of pressure ulcers. Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement. 2nd ed. 2007 March:1-31. Guideline summary: 2009 July.
Updated by: Jennifer K. Mannheim, ARNP, Medical Staff, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, Seattle Children's Hospital; and Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Inc.
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